Your dog has a problem. A BIG PROBLEM.
It’s the kind of problem that may lead to him being left at a shelter/rescue or worse, put to sleep. Where do you turn for help? How do you know whether the person will treat your dog humanely and provide an effective treatment and training plan?
Dog Training Has No Official Certification
Someone with an M.D. graduated from medical school.
Someone with an LCSW completed the state’s requirements to be a social worker.
Someone with a J.D. graduated from law school.
Anyone can claim to be a dog trainer. Absolutely anyone, regardless of education or ethics. It is up to you as the dog’s guardian to research the options and select the best one for your dog. (We will get into dog training certifications in another article.)
Today, we’re going to teach you how to know if someone is a dog behaviorist.
Follow the Flowchart!
(Click the image to make it larger.)
What’s the Difference?
A Vet Behaviorist (DACVB or Dip. ACVB) is a veterinarian who has received extra training in animal behavior. Your regular vet did not have to study much about animal behavior to get their DVM; that program focuses more on physical medicine than mental and behavioral health. A vet behaviorist can prescribe medication if your dog requires it and they can help you devise a management and training plan. We have a list of recommended DACVBs in the DC metro area.
A Behaviorist is someone with a Masters degree (ACAAB) or PhD (CAAB) in animal behavior. They have extensive knowledge of animal behavior and how animals (and humans!) learn. While they cannot prescribe medication like a Vet Behaviorist, they often have close relationships with local vets and can advocate on your dog’s behalf if medication would be helpful. We have a list of recommended CAABs & ACAABs in the DC metro area.
People may use terms like “behavior specialist,” “behavior consultant,” “dog therapist,” or even “behaviorist,” but unless they have a DACVB, ACAAB, or CAAB, you cannot be certain how much they really know about dog behavior.
Not all dog trainers are created equal! Be sure to ask a lot of questions and ask for testimonials from previous clients. This person may be an expert and a miracle worker or they may be the exact opposite. We have a recommended list of dog trainers in the DC metro area.
Need Some Guidance?
Even if you’ve never taken a class with us, you are welcome to call or email our main office for more information about positive trainers and behaviorists in the Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia area. We are here for you and your dog!